The recorded sound of your voice usually makes you cringe because of two ways vibrations reach your ear.
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Have you ever heard a recording of yourself played back and thought, "Ugh. Why do I sound like that?!" It’s weird right? Usually our voices sound deeper but when played back the way everyone else hears them they are higher and tinnier. Why does it sound so different? And why do we hate it so much?
The sound of your voice reaches your inner ear in two different ways. The vocal folds in your throat vibrate, creating sound waves that travel through the air. But those sound vibrations also conduct through your body, particularly through your skull and bones.
Our skulls lower the frequency of these later vibrations as they bounce around inside our throat, mouth and neck before reaching the ear's cochlea through the fleshy tissue in our heads. The surrounding bones spread out the vibrations, lower their pitch and enhance the lower-frequency vibrations so your voice sounds fuller and deeper.
When we hear our voice played back on a recording, we don't get it filtered through flesh and bone. What we're hearing then is only the air-conducted sound of our voice as waves of pressure. These vibrations are caught by our outer ears, and then transmitted through our eardrums, where they vibrate three bony ossicles before reaching the cochlea. In both cases, the cochlea converts these vibrations into impulses that are sent to the brain. But with the elimination of the bone-conducted sound we end up hearing our voice the way everyone else hears it.
Most of us have had this experience and hate it. We're used to the combination of the air-conducted and bone conducted sounds of our voice. It’s what we've lived with all our lives. So of course it's unsettling to hear something so different than we're used to.
But remember, this is how your friends have been hearing you your whole life. To them, it’s normal. So relax and rest easy knowing that everyone cringes at the sound of their own voice.
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